Are kids clothes getting out of control?

Kids clothes aren't what they used to be—and it often feels like some parents dress their children to be camera-ready mini fashionistas.

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Photo: iStockphoto

It’s a weird feeling, being envious of a child.

My daughter has this nice deep blue shirt from Splendid that looks great with skinny jeans. She pairs the outfit with her motorcycle boots and looks way more hip than I do on most days.

Kids’ clothes are becoming more and more refined, and with that comes added pressure—not to mention added expense—for parents. We can partially thank Pinterest, Instagram and reality stars like the Kardashians for the increasing emphasis on kids’ clothes. (Allegedly, Kim’s daughter, North West, is only allowed a fashion palate of oatmeal, grey and black). But it may also be the rise of the “mini me,” according to the Globe and Mail: “This penchant for mini-me minimalism marks a definitive shift from the last few decades, when dressing the next gen in distinctly kid-ish clothing was not just a norm but a sign of prosperity.”

Nowadays, we want our kids to look like adults in mini blazers and fedoras, moto jackets and oatmeal-coloured tunics. Pinterest and Instagram are full of photos of trendy kids, some of whom are becoming micro-fashion stars in their own right.

Alonso Mateo, a five-year-old fashion star, had hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers before his account was deleted (his stylist mom still posts photoshowever). The selfie-loving child is never without his signature popped collar or a pair of aviator sunglasses. Of course, there are parody sites as well. The most well-known is My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Pinterest board, where Tiffany Beveridge uses real photos from kids’ fashion shoots and writes satirical descriptions about a fictional girl named Quinoa. It’s the hilarious descriptions that really highlight the ridiculousness of the photos.

While the other kids were busy getting henna ankle tattoos, Quinoa and her friend Patina decided to raid the shoe cubbies and toss out all the Crocs as a gift to humanity. #MIWDTD

(I must admit, I also have a Pinterest board where I pop in over-the-top photos of kids. I called it Too Many Baby Urkels because of the all the photo shoots of babies wearing glasses.)

The Victorians also dressed their kids in miniaturized adult fashions, viewing children as adults-in-waiting. In modern times, we consider our kids to be reflections of ourselves, so it only follows that we want them to dress as we do too, right? This means we are embarrassed when our kids look “bad” or wear clothes that don’t reflect who we are. In our current tech-savvy and visual age, when we are constantly sharing pictures of our kids—and it often feels like some parents dress their kids to be camera-ready.

I know parents who still lay out their eight-year-old daughters’ clothes each morning to make sure that she looks picture perfect. They’re sending her the message that how she looks is of paramount importance. I believe that amount of control over her image isn’t good for her—or them. My daughter taught me early on that she wanted to put together her own outfits and, instead of being embarrassed by her early tendencies to match stripes with stripes or wear skirts over pants, I learned to embrace her individuality and creativity.

Read more: School dress codes: Are bra straps offensive?>

Parenting experts agree that it doesn’t matter what clothes your child wears. What matters most is the emphasis the parent places on their kids’ overall appearance. If parents want to teach their kids that how they look is overly important, they may have to reap the consequences later.

I try and make sure that my kids have a variety of clothes—some are trendy, some are for “nice” occasions, but most are for comfort. It doesn’t matter how fashion-forward their clothes are—a touch of glitter paint or a splotch of ketchup can ruin just about anything, anyway.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

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